Feds Bust German Smuggling Tarantulas Into LA

Allegedly mailed over 500 live tarantulas

UPDATE: The bond hearing is put off until Wednesday. Preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 17th and arraignment set for Dec. 20th.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man accused of smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the U.S. is under arrest after federal agents spun a web of deceit to catch him.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports

The U.S. attorney’s office says 37-year-old Sven Koppler of Wachtberg, Germany was arrested Thursday afternoon after arriving in Los Angeles.

If convicted of wildlife smuggling, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

He remains jailed Friday.

tarantulaboxedlarge Feds Bust German Smuggling Tarantulas Into LA

U.S. officials today released this photo as evidence showing some of the seized arachnids, which apparently were packed into straw-like tubes. (courtesy U.S. Dept. of Justice)

A criminal complaint says Koppler mailed more than 500 live tarantulas from Germany to Los Angeles. Fish and Wildlife Service agents intercepted the packages and then allegedly posed as customers and ordered dozens more spiders, including a protected Mexican species.

Prosecutors claim that Koppler made $300,000 by selling spiders to people in dozens of countries.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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